Spirituality and Culture in Renaissance Florence: Insights from the ‘Certosa di Firenze’ Conference

The city of Florence is renowned for its rich cultural and artistic heritage, but its spiritual history is equally fascinating. Last week, scholars from different countries gathered for a conference titled “Spirituality and Culture: People and Places at the Origins of the ‘Certosa di Firenze’ that delved into the spiritual landscape of 14th-century Florence and explored its connections to the foundation of the local Certosa, i.e., the Carthusian monastery established on the eastern outskirts of the city around 1340.

The three-day event began on Wednesday, June 21st, in the evening and took place at the Certosa itself. After a thorough visit to the monastery led by professional guides and a brief series of introductory speeches in the hall decorated with Pontormo’s famous frescos, guests were entertained by Renaissance dances and songs performed by Capriccio armonico and Etruria barocca, respectively.

The following morning (June 22nd), panel chairs and speakers started to offer a comprehensive examination of the various aspects of spirituality that were prevalent in late medieval Europe. In doing so, they explored the intersection of history, religion, politics, art, and architecture.

The program covered a wide range of topics, including the relationship between politics and religion, spiritual movements, the development of sacred art in the Late Middle Ages, and the role of specific individuals and families. Among such notable figures were St. Bridget, Dominican friar Jacopo Passavanti, and Carmelite bishop St. Andrea Corsini. The papers also explored the connections between the Florentine Certosa and other late medieval Carthusian communities.

The conference ended on Friday, June 23rd at Palazzo Bargagli, where ISI Florence director Stefano U. Baldassarri acted as “master of ceremonies.” The final series of panels opened with a welcome speech by Elisabetta Meucci, Florence City Councilor for Cultural Affairs.

To read the complete conference program click here